Monday, April 16, 2007

Vijay's Kheema

(RECIPE UPDATED, 10/16/07)
One of my co-workers, Sue, is married to a fellow from India named Vijay - He's one of the sweetest, nicest guys I've met, but he's not feeling too well lately. He's improving every day, though and we're all sending good thoughts his way. Since I've been thinking of him so much recently, I thought of this recipe that he gave me a few years ago, called Kheema.
(Vijay and Sue, at Sue's daughter's wedding)

Kheema is basic Pujabi (northern India) home cookin'. It's usually made with ground lamb, but any ground meat will do; I normally use a lean ground beef.
I also take Vijay's sage advice and add an array of veggies to the pot, cubed potatoes, green beans, and pigeon peas - an ancient legume, very important to Indian agriculture. They're perfect for this dish, providing a nice firm texture and deep earthy flavor. You might find them in the Mexican section of your grocery - in Spanish, they're known as "gandules".

This is also a great cold weather dish, and a dish that really sticks to your ribs - good ol' fashioned home cookin'!

Use an old coffee grinder for grinding the spices or buy a second one just for that purpose. The difference fresh ground spices makes is tremendous. Since I had to stop drinking coffee (irritable bowel woes...), I simply retired the old coffee grinder to a second career.

Kheema, by Vijay
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
Leaves from 1 stalk of curry (about 8 curry leaves - find them at your local Asian store)
½" peeled & finely chopped fresh ginger
6 cloves of garlic, minced (6 of 'em! oh yeah!)
2 pounds of ground meat (lamb or a decent beef, like sirloin)
8 white cardamom pods
½ teaspoon of black peppercorns
½ teaspoon of cumin seeds
½ teaspoon of mustard seed
a couple of dried red chili peppers, (like the Asian peppers (those nice long skinny hot ones you always pull out from the kung pao)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 Tablespoons of garam masala (if you can't find it locally, order it from Penzey's)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of cut green beans
1 can of pigeon peas (gandules), drained. (I think it's a 14.5 ounces can)
Cubed potatoes, ½"cubes (I use 3 regular sized russets, about 2 cups or so)

I usually don't have fresh ginger on hand, but I always have a tube of ginger paste in the fridge. Fortunately for me, my local grocery store carries it, so look around! It's probably hiding out there somewhere. Also useful for this dish is a small can of whole tomatoes (in tomato juice) instead of fresh - I keep a couple of cans in the cupboard at all times for just such an emergency... chop up the entire can and add the juice, too.

The directions:
Grind together the following:
8 white cardamom pods
½ teaspoon of black peppercorns
½ teaspoon of cumin seeds
½ teaspoon of mustard seed
chili peppers

Add the oil to a large (did I say large? I meant LARGE) skillet and sauté the onion and the curry leaves until the onion is soft and transparent.
Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for another minute or so.
Add the ground meat and brown it for 10 minutes. Break it up so it is in fine pieces.
Add the spices, tomatoes, and veggies, stir it all around...Cook, covered, on low heat for about 40 minutes (stir it every 10 minutes or so...)

The finished product:

Sometimes I serve this with basmati rice that I flavor with a bit of cumin, cilantro and some whole garlic cloves. The cloves boil and steam to a tender softness that allows them to be spread on some bread...

Enjoy, and think good things for Vijay.


Heather said...

Love love love this recipe! I served it at the inaugural martini party and get requests for it all the time.

Manisha said...

Sounds yummy! I've never made kheema with pigeon peas (tur dal) or with so many veggies! I think this is a very nutritious one-pot meal, apart from being so delicious!

And I am glad your friend Vijay has recovered!

If you still need help with translation, do get in touch!

Lorence said...

Manisha, yes, we love this as a great comfort food, belly-warming one pot dinner (then lunch, lucnh, and then lunch...). this was also the first dish I'd made that had pigeon peas. They're pretty tasty!

The last time I made it, I used yukon golds and doubled the tomotoes. It was the best batch I've made yet. I also recently found a version that adds yogurt just before the lamb. I'm going to definately try that next time.

Again, thanks for the encouragement and also for stopping by. I'll be visiting IFR again, too.